February 2017 – Tips of the month

Fruit Tree Pruning

February and early March are generally considered the best time of year to prune your fruit trees. You will want to do before bud break but after the last danger of severe freezing temperatures.
You will first want to determine the current condition of your trees. Are your trees standard, semi-dwarf of dwarf growing trees? This is determined by the type of root stock that your fruit trees are grafted upon. Examine your trees looking for broken, crossing, dead, dying or diseased limbs. Remove those damaged branches first by cutting back to the first available collar. Crossing branches or those growing from one side of the tree to the other should be removed so the center of the tree is open for good air circulation. Those trees with a central leader should be maintained with a leader until the desired height is attained. Keep the trees thinned regularly as less is more when it comes to fruit production. Always dispose of the diseased and branches containing insect masses, webs or cocoons to minimize the spread of future generations.

Benefits of Herbs

I had the tremendous opportunity this past week to attend the OEFFA conference in Dayton where I attended several workshops on herbs. I have always enjoyed growing these unique plants and enjoying their great flavors, colors and usefulness in the landscape but did know of all the scientific benefits of herbs in the diet. The following is just a small list of herbs that has been shown scientifically to have benefits for the human body, Oregano, Thyme, Lemon balm, Rosemary, Peppermint, Sage, Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, Cilantro, Goldenseal and Burdock. Also beneficial berry plants such as Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Currant and Grape are often used as an herb. Take the time to educate yourselves on the benefits of including herbs in your general diets. You will feel better and the foods you are eating will taste better as well. Enjoy.

Custom Growing

Do you have a special request for a certain vegetable or herb? We are willing to grow your requests as long as transplants or seed is available. Please contact me in February for any special requests that you may have and we will do our best to grow them for you.

Deer Protection and Companion Planting

Here is Licking County, we have lots of deer. They are curious and always hungry. I use Garden Thyme, Oregano and Peppermint plants to help deter them around my gardens. I space these companion plants about 10 feet on center just so the deer can get a good whiff of the herbs. Even though deer supposedly don’t care for garlic and onions and other young plants, I find they won’t eat the tops but they are curious enough to pull young plants out of the ground after being newly planted. This is irritating as the plants need to be re-planted before drying out. Once re-planted the deer lose their curious nature and will let the plants grow and establish. If deer continue to be a pest in your garden, try planting other plants that they will not bother or use some form of netting to physically keep the deer off of your plants. Mirrors and reflective foils will also work in some situations.

Finalize the Planning of Your Garden

Get those seed orders sent in and order your mail order plants and supplies. Spring is just around the corner.

Next month – Weed control and early insect and disease control.